Steamforged Games: Guild Ball wird eingestellt
Das Fantasy Football Spiel Guild Ball von Steamforged Games wird eingestellt.
On March 22, 2014, Guild Ball was successfully funded on Kickstarter. 890 backers pledged £93,691 to bring this game to life.
We pioneered. When others locked their rules behind a paywall, we made the Guild Ball rules, and even paper dolls, available to download for free. And we did the same with rules for every following release.
We innovated. Instead of letting gameplay issues lie dormant, we took community feedback on board and made regular core updates to the game.
Over the following six years, Guild Ball continued to captivate players with its playbook system and resource management. It’s a game where skill truly outshines luck.
But as much as we’ve loved developing, living, and breathing Guild Ball across four seasons, 17 Guilds, and 250+ miniatures, the time has come to announce the end.
Rich Loxam, Mat Hart, Jamie Perkins, and Sherwin Matthews have shared more details and thoughts on what this means below. But, first, some practicalities.
Starting from September 1st, Steamforged Games will no longer sell any Guild Ball products. What’s available now is end-of-line stock. Once it sells out, it won’t be resupplied.
There will be an amazing sale on all remaining stock, perfect for rounding out your collection
To hear from Rich, Mat, Jamie, and Sherwin, please read on.
A Word from Rich & Mat
THE BIRTH OF GUILD BALL
It’s strange, looking back through our emails to piece together a history of Guild Ball.
The story of how it all began back in February, 2012, when we were both chilling at the end of a tournament, has been told many times since, but it’s certainly a powerful journey to look back on now.
THE ROAD TO KICKSTARTER…
The idea for Guild Ball was always strong and after begging favours from people like Doug, Russ, and Sherwin, we were able to share that idea more widely. The game had an instant ‘hook’. Soccer with axes became our elevator pitch, and it just worked!
Those were fun days and exciting times. We were always looking to engage with anyone interested in what we were doing, and to share our joy in the game’s creation.
Then, on 20th February, 2014, the Guild Ball Kickstarter launched. Just 24 hours later, we were fully funded and on course to change our lives forever.
Fast-forward a year to SALUTE 2015. Anxiously waiting in a tiny 6ft x 6ft booth, we had no idea what to expect when the doors opened.
The day passed in a blur. The queues were massive. Everyone was super excited about the game, and the SALUTE organisers were panicking because the aisles were getting jammed up. Crazy day!
This game had surpassed all our expectations. The vibrant world we’d created was connecting with people. All the while, the realisation was dawning that we’d created a bit of a monster.
That was the pattern for the next couple of years. Every single stocking of minis sold out almost instantly.
In a short space of time, Guild Ball became well-known for its balance and clean rules, as well as being entertaining and quick to play.
By Adepticon 2016, it had broken into America and started establishing Steamforged as a significant new developer in the industry.
A WILD RIDE
As Guild Ball continued to grow in popularity, we scaled the size of the development team, too. Jamie Perkins stepped up to help us manage the development of Guild Ball and to look to refine the game into what it is today.
One of the pivotal moments in Guild Ball’s history was the creation of the Kick Off! Set. We’re incredibly proud of this product and believe it still stands up as one of the best introductions to a minis game you can get.
Kick Off! was a huge success. That success felt like it opened the door to a more accessible format for the entire range: pre-assembled miniatures, with everything you need to play in the box.
It was our first foray into pre-assembled miniatures, which we hoped would take Guild Ball into the next area of growth.
We also began to focus on bringing the new teams into PVC, going from single releases to full teams.
Be careful what you wish for. We set out to make the cleanest, most balanced miniatures game you could play at that time. And we achieved this hands down, flat out, nailed it!
Guild Ball truly was a competitive player’s dream. It rewarded player skill and experience, with a very flat probability curve to minimize variance. The competitive scene grew and grew.
But this ended up hurting the lifespan of the game.
Guild Ball became the type of game where you win your first game (demo) and then lose the next 100 games. When matched against a lesser skilled or inexperienced opponent, a better player would simply win the vast majority of games.
As the competitive scene began to dominate, the design space for wilder, more ‘fun’ elements began to shrink. New minis were either ‘OP’ or ‘trash-tier’ the second they were announced. Why take a new model when model XYZ already filled the role?
The style of gameplay changed to low-risk, ultra-conservative play where the ball was often deliberately side-lined.
This wasn’t the Guild Ball we envisaged.
But we always knew this would happen eventually. From the beginning, we said Guild Ball had a shelf-life if we wanted to avoid the game collapsing under its own weight through SKU creep and shrinking design space.
With a game that new players found tough to get into and a gameplay style that wasn’t very ‘football-y’, the community began to dwindle.
Launching new captains last year gave us the best view on the size of the community and helped shape our understanding of how best to move forward.
Season Five was always intended to be the end of the current story arc.
With a polished set of rules and well-balanced minis, it was the perfect moment for Guild Ball to come to an end. We just needed to finish and release the last few Minor Guild teams.
But then COVID-19 happened.
Like many businesses, Steamforged has had to react quickly and decisively to the changing world we live in right now.
Games that thrive on competitive play require players to be in the same location at the same time. With stores on lockdown and events being cancelled left and right, the future of Guild Ball became harder and harder to envisage in the current climate.
We didn’t give up, though. We looked at every angle, including reaching out to the community via the Field Test, to find new ideas and suggestions as to the best way forward.
The Field Test yielded some interesting results. Whilst the community rallied around and provided a lot of feedback, it became very clear we couldn’t have our cake and eat it, too. Bringing in new players would mean changing the game too much for the existing players to remain happy.
So, where does that leave Guild Ball?
Well, the game has an incredible ruleset well-supported by the community, and a huge assortment of balanced teams with enough variety to suit every playstyle.
We’ll be finishing the Season Five storylines but we won’t be releasing the remaining Minor Guilds.
The story leaves enough of an opening for us to look ahead for Guild Ball, and the Minor Guilds give us a great opportunity to revisit this wonderful game at some point in the future.
It has been an honour and a privilege to be the creators and custodians of this game and its world. Sadly, Guild Ball needs to retire from the spotlight…for now.
As a lifelong fan of miniature games, working on Guild Ball for the last six years has been a true privilege.
For myself, and the whole team past and present, it’s been a labor of love. I’ve lost track of the number of times conversations that started in the office would continue long after official working hours were over.
I’ll sorely miss being able to jump in a car at the weekend, drive to an event, and spend a day just playing Guild Ball. For those fortunate enough to be in the profession of making games, there’s no greater joy than seeing fans enjoy something you’ve poured your heart and soul into.
I’d like to thank everyone who contributed to Guild Ball’s success over the years:
My colleagues at Steamforged Games, our roster of meticulous volunteer playtesters, and of course, you—the fans—for supporting every new update and release.
Since Guild Ball’s inception, the competitive balance has been of the utmost importance. And although we believed in regularly updating the rules and stat cards to maintain that balance, we also firmly believed in never releasing undeveloped miniatures.
As it stands, there are four unreleased Minor Guilds. All are in various stages of concept and design, with none close to being ready for release. Standing firmly by our principals, we will not be releasing miniatures or rules for the remaining four Minor Guilds with the exception of confirming their titles:
The Lamplighter’s Guild – Alchemist’s Minor Guild
The Watch – Blacksmith’s Minor Guild
The Entertainer’s Guild – Brewer’s Minor Guild
The Moneylender’s Guild – Mason’s Minor Guild
As the first game many of us worked on professionally, Guild Ball will always have a special place in our hearts.
I remember where I was the very first time I heard the name Guild Ball, and indeed, met Mat for the first time. It was at my local gaming club one lazy Sunday afternoon. Mat had just moved back to the area and had come along to hang out and play games with one of his friends.
After his game we got to talking, and that’s when he proudly told me “I’m currently designing a game, and releasing it on Kickstarter next year. It’s like a game of football, with axes. We’re calling it Guild Ball.”
Was I intrigued? You can bet I was. Mat’s a charismatic guy, and he really sold me on the game in just a few sentences. But what I found more interesting was the world.
Ever since I’ve been a gamer, I’ve loved delving into the lore for tabletop games and learning about the characters, histories, religions, and cultures within the various settings. For me, any army or faction I paint and play has to hook me somehow, and without a lore connection I quickly lose interest.
All that said, at the time I’d become rather jaded with a lot of what was out there. So much fantasy literature, in particular, was derivative of one source or another, and I was very tired of characters with potent destinies running around, seemingly having to do little to justify their importance. In the tabletop world, the latter wasn’t so bad at least, but most of the best stories and histories had been established in years past but hadn’t actually developed or changed since.
So when Mat told me about his vision for the Empire of the Free Cities, complete with scheming Guilds, self-determination, gritty violence, and a continuing story-arc, it honestly felt like Christmas had come early. And it was then that I knew I simply had to be involved.
A week later, I submitted a piece named ‘Match Day’ to Mat. It’s the opening story piece to Season One—the infamous scene where Corsair is hobbled by Ox. Mat loved it, and asked me on the spot to write the rest of the Guild Ball lore.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Creating and writing Guild Ball’s story and lore has been an experience that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. More than just about anyone else on the team, I’ve spent long periods scribbling barely-readable notes into the early hours of the morning about some obscure story arc or location, most of which have never seen the light of day. Every so often I find them in an old notebook and smile, like hearing from an old friend.
We’ve created plenty of memories I’m immensely proud of over the last five years—stories of love and hate, friendship and rivalries, and victory and defeat. Characters worthy of little but abject hatred have rubbed shoulders with individuals that make our hearts soar.
We’ve seen moments that have genuinely brought a tear to the eye; the triumph of the Farmer’s Guild at the Sovereign States, Brisket turning her back on the Butcher’s Guild, Theron’s last post, Amber and Layne’s bittersweet farewell, and of course, the death of poor Greyscales. Those are just a few. There are too many to mention.
But more than anything, it’s been a privilege to meet so many people from our community that have fallen in love with the Guild Ball universe, from all across the world. Every one of you that has dropped me a message, come to one of our seminars, or stopped me at a convention somewhere will know how much I’ve always valued your input and been humbled by your praise.
I guess that leaves us with one final question. Where does it all end?
Well, fear not. I’m currently working on Season Five, and the finale for the first Guild Ball story arc—keep an eye on our website in the near future, where we’ll be releasing it in its entirety, before adding it to the resource section. Because there’s no way I wouldn’t want to give Guild Ball the ending it so richly deserves.
Over the years, the Guild Ball community’s dedication, skill, and enthusiasm have made this game what it is.
And who knows what the future has in store for the Empire of the Free Cities?
Not even Obulus could tell you that.
Quelle: Steamforged Games